While he was noticeably absent from his usual spot at the top of the street style roundups out of Pitti Uomo this year, the clear winner of the past week in my eyes was L’Uomo Vogue’s Fashion Editor Robert Rabensteiner. Rabensteiner’s reign over the week began immediately after day one of Pitti Uomo when it became clear that just about every major “trend” coming out of the trade show this year was something that Rabensteiner was already wearing three years ago. While I’ll hold my personal judgement on wether or not floppy hats and shawls have any real place in menswear right now, I do have to hand it to Rabensteiner for basically proving once again that he operates on an entirely different wavelength from everyone else.
The fact of the matter is though, this is nothing new for Rabensteiner. After all, this is the man who was wearing slouchy jackets and tailored overcoats with indigo work shirts, pajama tops, brimmed hats, and Prince Alberts while I was still in high school. And let’s face it probably middle school too. Rabensteiner can turn the casual into something polished better than just about anyone, so it was only right that when he finally did surface at the end of this week, it was not in photos from Pitti, but as the sole model in MP Massimo Piombo’s Fall 2013 look book.
It was only just a couple years now that Barneys brought the Genoa based brand but the states, but Piombo is far from a young brand. It was in 1988 as Massimo Piombo traveled to Scotland in search of a specific tweed to recreate one of his grandfather’s jackets, that he decided to just take the plunge and start a full fledged label. Like so many other Italian brands that have stepped into the spotlight over the past decade, Piombo has that ever-desirable unstructured look to it (especially now that Kiton, one of the most legendary of Neapolitan tailoring houses is backing MP) but what sets the apart is that curiosity that drove Piombo to start the brand to begin with. Backed by Piombo and his team’s constant search for the scarcest and finest of textiles, MP is made in the patterns and textures that really can’t be found in any other collections.
So many collaborative efforts these days feel forced, if not downright baffling (Yoko Ono and Opening Ceremony, Golden Bear and just about every store on the planet) but the Rabensteiner/MP pairing just seems entirely organic. Flipping through the look book, with Rabensteiner in a nearly identical pose each time – overcoat draped over his shoulders, scarf cascading from his front pocket, hands stuffed in his pockets to show the softness of the jacket’s shoulders, it’s easy to believe that after the shoot was over he simply walked off set and went about his day in the clothes he was just modeling. Piombo and Rabensteiner are kindred spirits, taking the relaxed and turning it into something refined, making those off-kilter choices like velvet sportcoats, and pale blue pajama tops look like the most natural thing in the world.